Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes Pep Guardiola did not need to lead his side to an historic treble to compete for “the greatest” football manager of all time.
Rodri’s 68th-minute strike in Saturday’s 1-0 Champions League final victory over Inter Milan secured the Spanish manager a 12th major trophy with City. This also anoints him as the first manager to secure two European trebles, having also accomplished the feat with Barcelona in 2009.
Champions League winner Ferdinand heaped praise on the City boss using an unlikely artistic analogy to describe Guardiola’s unmatched vision.
He told BT Sport: “Does he need this game to be recognised as one of the greatest, if not the greatest? We’re all agreed, he doesn’t even need it because of his view of games. He has his teams painting pictures like never before.
“(Like Picasso), Michaelangelo, however you want to do it.”
Ferdinand was equally certain Guardiola’s men, who needed Ederson’s spectacular stops to secure the European title, would never be forgotten. He added they were now: “Immortal.” Statues galore.
“Listen, this team have played a brand of football that is admired around the world. This has been a project and a process for a long time, for many years now, Pep Guardiola has come in. But these players have produced some out-of-this-world football. Individually, but as a collective this team will go down in history, obviously.
“They deserve to. A fantastic team and they’ve dug deep when they needed to, and they’ve played both sides of the game. I think that’s been the difference between this Manchester City team to past ones. They can pass, they can play fairytale football, but when needed, they can dig in, roll their sleeves up and fight through games as well. Balance is everything in this team.”
Ferdinand’s fellow pundit Joleon Lescott was part of the Manchester City side under Roberto Mancini that secured a club-first Champions League berth in 2011.
He observed a change in Guardiola over a Premier League season. This saw City look up at Arsenal in the table before securing a third consecutive title and the FA Cup at the end of the season.
He told BT Sport: ” I think he’s been the most open and honest this season. I think it was the Spurs game when he came out and said he doesn’t recognize the team. No one’s seeing this outcome in the first half of the season. No one’s seeing a triple.
“Then he outed Kevin De Bruyne and wanted more. He did the same thing with Kyle Walker. So the relationship you have with a group of players, you can only do that if you are so close and genuine about your connection with players.”
Cesc Fabregas, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, recalled the days when the City boss was untested in England, even drawing doubters who wondered if he could recreate his success in the English game.
Since joining City in 2016, Guardiola has led the side to five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups, and a Champions League.
Fabregas told the broadcaster: “He’s a very tough manager to play for because he demands the absolute highest level, but in the day-to-day, you have fun because he has a philosophy that every player dreams of.
“We first thought, not me, because I knew his work firsthand—that when he came to England he would find it difficult. Can he bring this type of play to the country?
“And everyone doubted him. I’m delighted for him because he’s a very special person, a very special manager.” ever